Post By: Anne Watson
I’m going to fire my to-do list. As my assistant, she does an excellent job of keeping me organized, but lately, she’s too good. Every single thought that pops into my brain is ending up on the list which sounds efficient but in reality, means that I am perpetually behind, unable to cross enough off to feel accomplished. My list thinks she is the boss of me and it’s got to stop.
Have you ever felt this way? I love being organized, and I’m almost famous for my lists and color-coded calendars, but I confess that lately all the joy has been sucked out of it. Rather than having items that help me remember the most important things, my lists have lists and all I feel is stress. Ironically, part of me things I am managing the tension by writing everything down. The thing is, I know better. I’ve bitten off more than I can chew on more than one occasion so why haven’t I learned? Why haven’t you?
When I’m feeling this much pressure, I am far from being my best self. I feel anxious, tired, and unmotivated. I lose the will to eat vegetables. I pick fights with people I love. I break out like a teenager. I have a stress twitch under my eye, and I struggle to laugh at jokes. I don’t even enjoy a good Netflix binge, which is when you know things have gone really off course! This is not some mamby pamby issue. Too much pressure and not enough joy is a toxic cocktail for the soul. When we aren’t functioning at our best, we fall out of God’s best for us.
Here is what I do when I need to prison-break out of the to-do list rut. I realize this is another list but go with me for a minute. Start by putting the list away. Then…
1. Do something you think is entirely frivolous. Watch a movie in the middle of the afternoon. Bake a cake you don’t need. Buy a new purse in a bright color. Read a romance novel. Learn the words to an upbeat song and then sing!
2. Change your scenery. Meet a friend or ten for lunch, a Broadway show, or just chips & salsa. Physically remove yourself from your stuck place.
3. Loosen your death grip on control. I promise the world will keep turning if you take a permanent marker and cross all non-essential things off your list. Yes, something will probably fall through the cracks, but when you take care of you, then you can take care of it.
I’ve learned to recognize the signs that indicate when my pressure and stress have reached an unhealthy level. I’m even getting better at noticing it before someone I love has to tell me (grin.) For me, the practice of being frivolous, changing scenery, and loosening control have all helped me move back to center. And that’s just better for everyone.
I’m not going to fire my to-do list today, I’ve decided. I’m merely going to give her a vacation. We both need it.
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 1:2
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As a first grade teacher I was often overwhelmed with everything on my to do list. When I prayed one day saying “I have so much to do and don’t know what to do first – God make my schedule “ suddenly I sat back at the end of the day and realized I was not stressed over things to do all day and I remembered doing several big things on my list but not all of the little things. But when I looked at my list – even the little things had been done.
I love that Dena! I am working hard on surrendering it all to God. Some days it works, some days it doesn’t, but it’s about progress, right? Thanks for sharing your tried and true!